New Research Finds Possible Genetic Target for Treating Endometriosis Pain

Living with endometriosis means living with chronic pain - they seem to go together. Endometriosis, or “endo”, can lead to severe pain when tissue similar to that found inside the uterus attaches to other organs and grows outside the uterus. This abnormal tissue growth causes long-term irritation or inflammation, which leads to pain.1

In a new study from Michigan State University published in Cell Reports, researchers shed new hope on the fight for effective treatment of pain caused by endometriosis.2

What is the study and why does it matter?

Michigan State University researchers focused on a specific type of endometriosis linked to a mutation (change) of the ARID1A gene. Mutation of this gene has been linked to more severe and painful endometriosis.

When ARID1A is changed, cells known as super-enhancers malfunction and grow at an abnormally fast rate. These super-enhancers are what allows tissue to grow and spread quickly outside the uterus, causing the severe pain known to women with endometriosis.2

What are epigenetic therapies?

This study suggests that epigenetic therapy may be a new and effective way to manage the pain of endometriosis. Epigenetic drugs are treatments that work on the specific genes linked to a disease.3

Several epigenetic medicines are already used to treat different types of cancer. Other forms of epigenetic therapies are being studied to use in heart disease, neurological diseases, and autoimmune conditions.

How is this research different?

This new study used a drug that targeted a specific protein in cells called P300. The protein P300 “turned down” the action of the super-enhancers, which then decreased the effects of the mutated ARID1A gene.2

Results from this study show that epigenetic therapy may help treat the pain of endometriosis. This type of therapy has not been used before. Results from this study may pave the way for more effective treatments for pain linked to endometriosis.2

What does this mean for people with endo?

Targeted genetic therapy is an exciting development in the treatment of endometriosis pain. Up to now, there have not been many choices in how to treat endometriosis pain beyond over-the-counter painkillers, surgery, or hormone therapy.

Because of these study results, researchers are now looking at other drugs and therapies targeting the P300 protein. This could mean a drastic improvement in the overall management and daily living for women with endo.2

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